The “Curability” of Ovarian Carcinoma

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IN 1826, William P. Dewees, M.D., Adjunct Professor of Midwifery at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote of the ovaries in his Treatise on the Diseases of Females1 as follows:

They seem to be removed so far from the general sympathies of the system; so insulated in position; so independent in function; that the common agents for the removal or control of disease, seem to waste themselves in unavailing attempts to influence their actions or modify their affections. Who flatters himself that he has removed a dropsy, resolved a scirrhus, or interrupted a suppuration in these bodies? We believe, if he be candid, none will confess he has, little more then at present is ascertained than that they are very liable to disease and but very little susceptible to cure.

In the 129 years since Doctor Dewees' comments were published, we have made great strides in medicine and surgery. We now are able to cope with suppurations and, on occasion, control the function of the ovaries —but what of our progress with dropsy and scirrhus? Our knowledge about these diseases has increased greatly, and we seemingly are able to cure a significant number of patients. However, are we doing as well as we think we are?

Recent literature on ovarian carcinoma is confined mainly to statistical analyses of large groups of cases, with a general sameness of conclusions. These statistics allow us to draw the following profile in regard to ovarian carcinoma: The woman afflicted with ovarian carcinoma may be of . . .



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